Church Leaders Back “One Laptop Per Child”

U.S. and Canada Have 14 Days Left to “Give 1, Get 1”

ROME, NOV. 13, 2007 ( Residents of the United States and Canada have the chance to give a laptop to a child from an underdeveloped nation, and get one for themselves in the process, all for $399.

But there is a deadline for the “Give 1, Get 1” project, and the clock started ticking Monday.

“Give 1, Get 1” is the initiative launched by One Laptop per Child, a nonprofit project launched in 2005 by the director of the media lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nicholas Negroponte.

Negroponte’s plan has attracted plenty of attention, most recently in Rome at the Patristic Augustinianum Institute on Oct. 29, at a presentation of the project featuring Cardinal Paul Poupard, retired president of the Pontifical Councils of Culture and Interreligious Dialogue.

The event was organized by the Society of Jesus’ Commission for Social Communications, and also brought Cardinal George Cottier, retired theologian of the pontifical household.

A mission

“Give 1, Get 1” works like this: Until Nov. 26, XO laptops are available to the public in the United States and Canada. Residents can purchase two laptops for $399; one will be sent to a child in a developing nation (organizers say they’ll do their best to get it there before Christmas), and one will be sent to the purchaser, who can make a tax deduction for the $200 that the donated laptop cost.

The XO laptops are durable computers designed for education and connecting kids in developing nations who have never worked with information technology.

David Pogue reviewed the machines Oct. 4 in the New York Times, noting “The truth is, the XO laptop, now in final testing, is absolutely amazing, and in my limited tests, a total kid magnet. Both the hardware and the software exhibit breakthrough after breakthrough.”

Negroponte insisted that the initiative is not ultimately about giving laptops to Third World kids. Rather, he said in Rome, it aims to enable these children to receive high-quality education, and thus foresees formation for teachers as well.

“Negroponte’s mission is something extraordinary — truly a mission. This is a work of justice, peace and equality,” Antonio Battro, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, told ZENIT. “We know that the Catholic Church, Mater et Magistra, has at least 50 million students around the planet, in different schools, Catholic schools — we must reach them.”

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